It would seem so. That is, if one is to believe the latest statistics released by the Office of Concert Security which reports a 31 percent rise in fans exiting during guitar solos at Ashlee Simpson shows; a 43 percent rise in audience members standing during ballads by Bryan Adams and a whopping 79 percent of concert goers talking on their cell phones during performances by Motley Crue, Tori Amos and Tiger Army. Plus, add in the rising number of incidents involving spilled beverages, belching and flatulence, and one would think that there is an epidemic of disorder threatening to transform today's concert scene into a massive riot of panic and disarray.
"We're doing our best to screen out the incorrigibles, the malcontents and the riff raff," says Martin Riggs, chief concert control officer for the government's Office of Concert Security. "We've increased full-cavity searches at the turnstiles, added undercover officers at the concession stands and boosted the presence of restroom health cops at all major concerts. You won't have to worry about the guy sitting next to you at an Indigo Girls show or an Alan Jackson concert not washing his hands after a bathroom break. Not on my watch."
But is it enough? Furthermore, what has led to the breakdown of concert etiquette resulting in so-called fans forming mosh pits at Yanni shows or waving glowsticks during performances by Sting and Fritz's Polka Band?
"Lack of drum solos," claims Roger Murtaugh, who has walked the concert beat for over 20 years, and whose career was dramatized in the Hollywood biopic Clear Channel Confidential. "Back in the day, fans would use the obligatory 15-minute drum solos to go to the concessions or visit the restrooms. However, the decreasing number of these once integral concert moments has resulted in concert goers resorting to violence as a result of extreme thirst, hunger or bursting bladders at shows ranging from Ash to Wilco. It's a statistical fact that as the number of drum solos went down, the number of audience disturbances went up, leaving you with the crisis that we in the concert security biz face today."
Is there a solution to concert crime? Furthermore, what is the appropriate punishment for people convicted of annoying their fellow concert fans at shows by Helmet or George Thorogood & The Destroyers?
"We're looking at setting required punishments for certain concert crimes," says Leo Getz of the federal government's Concert General's office. "Singing out of key at an Elton John concert warrants five years at Pelican Bay. Standing on the chair and blocking the view of the person behind you at an Oasis show will get you 10 years of solitary confinement at Leavenworth. Clapping, yet not staying with the beat, gets you 20 to life. That is, except in Mississippi where it's a capital offense."
What? The death penalty for people who can't keep a beat? Isn't that a bit drastic? Even for Mississippi?
"Not really," replies Getz. "After all. If you can't keep the time, don' t do the crime."